“Of course it was planned,” Elie said half in frustration, half in surprise. “Idiot.”
The news anchor had just said that this operation – Operation Pillar of Defense – was planned months ago. “Every army makes plans. As soon as the last war ended, the army was making plans! We have plans for a war with Syria, with Egypt, with Iran, with Jordan. You think the United States doesn’t have plans for a war with its enemies.”
The “idiot” part of the comment shows he is still my Elie, still the one impatient with the stupidity of others. Elie is more of a deep thinker.
We were driving – Elie, his youngest brother and my next soldier (and yes, there goes my stomach at the thought and yes, my eyes fill with water and I blink it away,..lest you think I don’t take this seriously) and I were on our way in to work, to school, to the last day of the business week and the first full day of this war that began yesterday.
There were so many comments Elie made, so much talk of what it was like from his side. In truth, I’ve mostly heard the stories before and yet they comfort me because he is here not there. His voice is strong, not tired. He’s grown, he’s married, he’s safe.
Davidi was sitting in the back; the radio was broadcasting the news and Elie would listen and comment. And as the reporter spoke, we heard in the background the air raid siren. There was a brief pause in the reporter’s dialog and then he continued as the siren wailed. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Davidi’s eyes.
Not a child’s eyes filled with fear but a young man, balanced on the edge, as Elie was not so long ago. I don’t want him to have that look, that understanding. He was waiting, as I was, to hear them tell us what had hit, where.
“Color Red, Color Red in Ashdod, Color Red, Color Red in Ashdod, Color Red” the voice calmly announced – Ashdod, Ashkelon… it was a woman’s voice – strong, calm. Insistent. Run, run to shelter. Get safe. Hurry….you only have seconds. Hurry, run! No, she didn’t say any of those things. All she said was “Color Red, Color Red in Ashdod, Color Red….” But all of Israel was saying those other words as we waited to hear the explosions. Hurry, please God, hurry. Be safe.
The siren in Beersheva – a 30 minute drive with traffic and I quickly lost count of how many rockets were fired at my country. At one point, the reporter was counting – “one, two, three, four, five, no six, seven, eight. Iron Dome has been fired eight times in Beersheva” and still the sirens cried.
The news anchor spoke to the reporter on location, “don’t they know all of Israel is hearing this?”
“Yes,” the reporter answered. “The last four times I’ve been on live broadcast, they’ve fired at Beersheva.”
They don’t understand us at all, I told my sons. Not at all. We listen to the sirens and the voice announcing an incoming missile attack. It does not weaken us, it infuriates us. It angers us beyond words. No – we are one people, one country, one body. You shoot at them; you shoot at me. No, this is just not something we can allow to continue.
There is that burst of anger that we express in words because we know it will never be done. I speak of making Gaza a parking lot – no, I am not genocidal; unlike those in Gaza who are firing at one million Israelis, I have no wish to see my enemy dead. Israel will never do to Gaza what so many other nations have done to that troubling pest that bothers them.
Look what the Syrians have done – they have murdered more than 38,000 of their own people in the last year – each time I hear the count – 70 dead today in Syria; 140 dead today in Syria; even 200 dead in Syria. Well, according to Palestinian sources, 11 are dead in Gaza and of those, without question, at least 7 are Hamas or other terror organization operatives. There is no massacre going on and I will not mourn the deaths of 7. I will mourn for the very few innocent casualties and I will wonder why some parent didn’t keep his child in safety, as we keep ours inside.
Paula R. Stern